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Mohamed Morsi repositions Egypt

Westerners have underestimated Egypt’s return to the international scene. They have not perceived the failure of "containing" Iran and Tehran’s skilful diplomacy in removing the Muslim Brotherhood from Saudi influence. Alfredo Jalife describes this rapid evolution which changes, in part, the Middle Eastern equation.

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President Mohammed Morsi in Beijing
© Xinhua

The collision between the government of the Muslim Brotherhood, chaired by Mohamed Morsi, and the military junta, led by Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi (to which we drew attention in the context of the confrontation between the Turkish and Pakistani models) has had a surprising outcome in favor of the Islamic Brotherhood. A soft coup has deposed the Minister of Defence (Marshal Tantawi) and the second junta strongman, General Sami Anan, during serious incidents on the Sinai border with Israel that cost the lives of several Egyptian guards.

Morsi became engulfed in the nation’s angry response - Tahrir Square was again packed with people - and smoothly took things in hand. The future of the National Assembly which had just been elected (with a Muslim Brotherhood majority) and disallowed by the military junta, the drafting of a new constitution, and the control of the judiciary which is held by the junta and can give large legal headaches to the President, are now suspended.

As he strengthens his power, Morsi will expand his margin of manoeverability to control the intelligence services and their operational capacity in the Sinai peninsula, formerly demilitarized, now travelled very freely by Al Qaeda’s transnational hordes.

Purging the summit of the ubiquitous intelligence services constitutes the prelude to his soft counter-coup against the junta’s repeated putsches.

According to his new military control scheme - which has attracted new generations of soldiers, those who reject Marshal Tantawi’s gerontocratic junta – the Egyptian President has regained command of the strategic Sinai peninsula, mobilizing forces destined for domestic surveillance against the metastasis of Al Qaeda, but with sufficient muscle to disturb Israel’s tranquility. Let us note the current rapprochement between the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and their Palestinian Hamas allies in Gaza (specifically on the Sinai border).

The more the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi reinforce their position at the head of the country, the more we see (and will see) Egypt assuming the historical place it deserves at the forefront of Middle Eastern policy. This is already reflected dramatically by the president’s first world class visit to China, and his repositioning in three subregional directions:
1) reconciliation with the Sunni petroleum powers in Saudi Arabia and Qatar,
2) reconciliation with Iran (which we announced more than a year ago),
3) Intervention in the Syrian dispute with a proposal for a viable Islamic solution promoted by the four regional powers (Egypt, Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia).

The Pyramid Revolution, with its corollary series of junta putsches, and the response of the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi have caused a severe economic crisis that has drained the reserves of the central bank, while the two Sunni oil powers, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have pledged generous support for Egypt. Despite all its avatars, Egypt is the preeminent military power in the Arab world and receives $ 3 billion a year in aid from the USA as compensation under the Camp David Accords (now obsolete and hated by the overwhelming majority of Egyptians).

Reconciliation with Iran, which has been evolving since last year, is starting to take shape with the upcoming historical visit (in the words of Al-Jazeera) of the Egyptian President at the 16th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, which brings together 120 countries (the UN has 193) in late August in Tehran, which will be for Morsi, on a stopover after his visit to China, as discreet as decisive (to be followed closely).

One of the best analysts of the Iranian controversy, Trita Parsi, President of the Iran-USA National Council, has said that the participation of South Korean Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the UN, at the Non-Aligned Summit, is a triumph for Iran, and that is true.

Even the Israeli-centric New York Times (08/22/12) recognizes that "efforts" led by the U.S. and Israel to isolate Iran suffered a setback, with the presence of Ban Ki Moon alongside the 120 countries at the Tehran summit and the presence of the Egyptian President seriously perturbs Israel. Let’s not forget that the Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, was also invited, which ails Israel more than the U.S. (The Times of Israel, 8/24/12). Hamas could prove to be the vital cog between Egypt and Iran...

Iranian Chancellor, Ali Akbar Salehi, acknowledged in an interview published in the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram (21/08/12), that his country waited 30 years to appoint an ambassador to Egypt, and did so only after the Pyramid Revolution.

It is as chancellor of a regional power that Salehi acknowledged that Egypt is a "pillar" for the region, and has a special stature among Arab and Islamic countries. He rejected the idea that there is a fundamental gap in beliefs between Shiite Iran and Sunni Egypt, as regards to their interpretations of Islam, and he lamented that these divisions have been exacerbated by the U.S. and the Zionists. Egypt and Iran share a common culture and religion, and colonialism created racial, ethnic, religious and sectarian discrimination wherever it has lost ground, and this is what is found in the tension between Arab and Iranian, Sunni and Shia. Regarding the volcano of sectarianism in Syria, Egypt agrees that Iran intervene by offering a creative solution, which the West peremptorily refuses to consider.

In my opinion, the U.S. is planning a second Afghanistan in Syria, in order to destabilize Iran and the Islamic region of the Caucasus, because it is at Russia’s incandescent border - which is 20% Muslim - that fighters are beginning to be spurred.

On the subject of the chaos in Syria, Salehi warned (in an article for the Washington Post (08/08/12), that it could become another Afghanistan, this time at the gates of Europe. According to the New York Times, all these events interconnecting confirm Iran’s analysis that a rearrangement of power is in progress in the Middle East, where Western influence is in decline. Indeed, the US-Israeli campaign to tarnish Iran as a rogue state that exports terrorism and secretly manufactures nuclear weapons, has little resonance in much of the world. A lost cause, it is seen as black propaganda with no operational magic. In my opinion, Israel, one of the most isolated countries in the world, "rogue state" – in the words of former Chancellor Tzipi Livni - "apartheid state" - in the words of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s nephew - is leading the USA, though an undisputed superpower, to its perdition on a global scale. It is at a point where the New York Times has opened its columns to an absurd debate on the topic: Does support for Israel harm the credibility of the USA? As though it were still time to ask such a question ...

The U.S. policy of demonizing Iran - at the instigation of "messianic Zionist" Netanyahu - in the words of Meir Dagan, former head of Mossad – has failed spectacularly, and it is time lucid US geo-strategists face the inescapable reality of Iran, as does its Egyptian ally.

Translation
Roger Lagassé

Source: La Jornada (Mexico)

Alfredo Jalife-Rahme

Alfredo Jalife-Rahme Social and political sciences Professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). His columns on international politics feature regularly in the Mexican daily La Jornada. His latest book is China irrumpe en Latinoamérica: ¿dragón o panda? (Orfila, 2012).

 
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